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The Zedel of a man called “Magister Beringois” was found by J. Acutt (nome de plume: James Wallhausen) during his researches and primilary published on his website dedicated to the research on historical european martial arts: paleo.eskirmology.co.uk. Further information on this document is planned to be published on his website.

The manuscript in which J. Acutt found the Zedel is residing in the Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Jena (ThULB). It is indexed Ms. G.B. f. 18a folio 123v (a-b). The library catalogue description could be found in “Die Handschriften der Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Jena, Band 2“, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009.

In this article I did some speculations on that object and a fresh transcription based on the image provided by J. Acutt. It differs in some ascpects to the one presented in the document of J. Acutt (edited by M. Chidester, and J. Hull). As far as I know it is planned to bring both transcriptions and translations side by side in a new release of that document. Check out the website paleo.eskirmology.co.uk for the update.

Sequitur bonus et verus modus dimicandi magistri H. Beringois pie memorie. – Here starts the good and true fencing mode of master H. Beringer, of blessed memory.

Beringer (Beringar, Berenger) is an often used medieval prename still common in the 15th century as a given name, but already widely used as a surname like it is in present times. The writer of the fragment uses the Latinisation form Beringius in a declined form, the genitive. Therefore is unclear if the named master is named Beringer or is related to one of the places named “Beryngen” like the small place Beringen (documented since 786) not far from Erfurt,Germany (i.e. “Nativitas magistri H. Mechliniensis” written 1280 by Henry Bate of Mechelen/Malines). So the “H. Beringois” could stand for a man coming from Beringen. Or he could be part of a noble family like the “von Beringen”, e.g. the Henricus from Beringen listed for 1303 as a magister in the 1303 Regesta Boica. In this case the latin genitve form of that name replaces the “von Beringen” (e.g. Konrad Beringois is also named Conradum de Beryngen or Conrad von Beringen in the 14th century).

The assumption that Berengois is a french name as (see Bescheidenheit: deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters in Eisenach, Michael Baldzuhn, Universitäts- und Forschungsbibliothek Erfurt/Gotha – 2006) is not supported by any other document.
Given the huge number of accounts of that name it is most unlikely that this master could be identified without fail. The blessing offered at the end of this name within the fragment ‘pie memorie’ refers to the blessing of the dead, akin to those found in German “Gott gnädig sei “. This indicates that Beringois was dead when this scribe recorded his verse.

Speculation

We do not know if the title “magister” is the latin form for master as it is used to indicate a teacher in a certain art, or if it is a title earned as a general grade. Therefor we have no indication of his profession. He could as well be a retired noble, a teaching master in the scholastic center of Erfurt or a fencing master. The only fencing master known to us from Erfurt at the beginning of the 15th century is Hans Seydenfaden named in the works of Paulus Kal as part of the Liechtenauer society.

It is open to speculation as to whether the well cited master Liechtenauer collected the verse from Beringer, or vice versa, or whether both copied from an older source, and further investigation will need to be made before any conclusion can be made.
The scientific dating of the Ms. G.B.f.18a is based on the accurate method of paper-analysis. It is almost certain that it was not written before 1418 and not much later than 1444. Given that the majority of the paper-type of this compilation was not used after 1430 the dating could be narrowed down to 1418-1428. This brings it next to the GMN 3227a of Nuremberg, the oldest known document containing the lore of master Liechtenauer naming him as an originator. The GMN 3227a is date terminated around 1389 as that date is written as a start of a periodic calendar. Because of the mode of such calendars it is an assumption and signaled by the word “around”. It could be very well, that this is a date valuable or remarkable to the author and therefore the calendar starts with it. The GMN 3227a could be written before 1389 (what is unlikely) or later in range from 20 or 40 years. This is more likely because the tabular form the author of the GMN 3227a used for this kind of calendar became common about 20-30 years later than its start date. Furthermore contains the GMN 3227a text passages and recipes that became common 10-20 years later than 1389. Looking at the content in comparison to other manuscripts a dating to 1410-1420 is more likely but this pure speculative. We know for certain that Johannes Liechenauer is dead in 1452 as it is indicated in the blessing of the manuscript Codex 44.a.8, Rome. The blessing of the Paulus Kal, Bologna, manuscript may be older but the date termination is less accurate.
In the GMN 3227a the blessing for the dead master is not given, so it can be assumed that master Liechtenauer was alive in 1389 and probably until 1420. Therefore Master Beringer could be as well a student or a contemporary of Liechtenauer.

Transcription

Sequitur bona et vera moda dimican-
di magistri h. Beringois pie memorie.

Jung ritter lere god lieb haben
frauwen so ere ube ritter-
schaff / unde lere ding das
dich cziret und in krigen sere
hoffiret Glev[ ]ringen, sper
Swert und messer menlichen
bederfen und das in andirn
handen vorderben / Zcorn hawe
krump twer had schiler mid
schiteler

der krig
wer obir dich hawed zcorn
hawe ort deme drawed
Wyrt ers ge war nyms oben
abe ane var Biß sterker wed-
der wint stich sicht ers nyms
nider Czuch de snid oben uß obin
hoyht so geyt der krieg uß.
krump nicht korcsz hawe der
wechsel damede schauw krump
uf behende wyrf den ord of
dye hende krump wer wol schezit
med schreten vel hauwe letzit
krump wer dich irred der edel kri-
eg dich vor wirret Twere ben-
ymbt was von himel her abe ku-
met Twere zcu dem orte nym den
hals ane fortte Schil in dem o-
ben is daz du wylt be dobern
Der scheyteler myt sinen kere de-
me antlitze ist gar gewere

Hec{ce} sunt cautele

Erschrigkestu gern kain fechten
saltu nymmer ge lerne In deß vor
und nach die swei ding sind aller
dinge on orspring In des vor und
nach an hoite dem krige sy nicht
mach wes der krieg romet oben
unnden werd er beschemet hore
waz da secht yst ficht nicht lingk
ab du recht bist und lingkest in
dem rechten ouch here hingkest
Ich sage vor war keyn man schutzit
sich ane var hastuß vornomen
czu slage mag er kleine komen

Von hengen
Czwei hengen nyder van beyden
handen uf von der erdin Wer
sich vor dir zchucht abe hauw
snel daz daß er snabe hauw czu
dem s{f}leytin den meyster wiltun in
streichen hauw czuden phluge zu
den ochsen hartte . vuge fuge wer
nach god hauwen der sich kunst
kleyne vreuwen haw und was du
wilt kein wesßeler kom an den
schilt vier sind versztin die dye lege-
re ouch sere letzin Sectz an vir
enden blyb dar uf wiltu enden vor-
setzen hut dich geschiet daz sere
muet dich Ist daz du vor satzt yß
Sich wy het da her komen yst
Hore waß ich rate strigh abe snel
hauwe midde drate

Nach reysen lere trid vorbas und
snid in dy were Sprech fenstir mach
stand konlich sich syne sach Ane
alle var an twivel roye her gebar
In allen winden heuwe stiche snyte
lerne vinden Daz saltu oben merken
ab dye levger sint weych oder herte
Czugke zrugket her zcugke me
er be vint arbeyt die oin trid we-
ssellir zcwifagh den alden snit midde
mach ffellir wer de furt von under
nach wonsche rurt Czwifach furbaß
drid eyn hud und biß nicht laß kome
iß glichtzet obene So standet abe daz
ger ich lobe wer uf dich stight sine
ord mit twere trift und bricht wil-
tu dich rechen vier bloße konstli-
chen brechen Oben duplire dar unden
recht mutire vir bloße wiße So
slestu ge wisse llaß den ort hangen
Be griff den knauf wiltu midde
rangen vier sind der snidde Czwene
unde czwene oben midden {arts or 418 arabic numbers as a word}

Et sic est finis huius artis

Ich trete Gude uf de selben phad
da uns lieber here ihne vußß selber
uf trat der waz milde und gud Ge-
seyne mich hute sin heyligen rosen
varweß blut und sin heylygen funf
wunder daz ich des geyden tudeß

Translation into modern German

Hier beginnt die gute und wahre Methode des Fechtens von Meister H. Beringer, gedenket seiner.

Junger Ritter lerne Gott lieb zu haben und Frauen zu ehren. Übe Ritterschaft und lerne das Ding, dass dich zieret und in Krigen sehr dient. Glefe, Ringen, Speer, Schwert und Messer bedürfen eines rechten Mannes Händen und bergen in anderen Verderben.

Zornhau, Krump, Twer hat Schieler mit Scheitler.

Der Krieg
Wer oben dich haut, Zornhau-Ort dem droht.
Wird er es gewahr, nimm es oben ab ohne dich zu bewegen (aufzufahren).
Bist stärker wieder winde, stich. Sieht er es nimm es nieder. Ziehe, die sind oben, aus Überlegenheit, so geht der Krieg aus.

Krump, nicht kurz haue, der Wechsel damit schaue. Krump, auf behände, wirf den Ort auf die Hände.
Krump, wer wohl schätzet, mit Schritten viele Haue verletzten.
Krump, wer dich verwirret, der edel Krieg, dich verwirret.
Twer nimmt entgegen, was vom Himmel oben kommt.
Twer zu dem Ort, nimm den Hals ohne Furcht.
Schiel in dem Oben, ist dass du willst imponieren.
Der Scheitler mit seiner Kehre, dem Anlitz ist gar eine Bedrohung.

Hier sind die Grundsätze (Vorkehrungen)

Erschrickst du gern, kein Fechten sollst du jemals erlernen.
Indes, Vor und Nach, die zwei Dinge sind aller Dinge Ursprung. Indes, Vor und Nach ohne Eile dem Krieg sei nicht nach. Was der Krieg beabsichtigt oben, unten wird er beschämt.
Höre was da schlecht ist, ficht nicht links, wenn du rechts bist, und links in dem Rechten, auch höre, hinkest.
Ich sage fürwahr, kein Mann schützt sich, ohne sich zu bewegen. Hast du es (ihm) weggenommen, zu Schlägen mag er nicht kommen.

Von den Hängen
Zwei hängen nieder – von beiden Händen – hoch von der Erde.
Wer sich vor dir abzieht, den haue schnell, dass er schnaube. Hau zu {den Seiten| den Flöten} willst du den Meister einen Streich spielen. Hau zu dem Pfluge, zu dem Ochsen hart füge.
Wer nach geht Hauen, der kann sich Kunst nicht freuen.
Hau was du willst, kein Wechsler kommt an den Schild.
Vier sind die Versetzen, die die Leger auch sehr verletzen.
Setz an vier Enden, bleib drauf willst du enden. Versetzen hüte dich, geschieht das, sehr müht dich. Ist, dass du versetzt hast, ist sich wie das hat daher kommen ist. Höre was ich rate, streich ab, schnell, haue mit Tritt.

Nachreisen lerne, tritt vorwärts und schneid in die Wehre.
Sprechfenster mache, stehe kühn, sieh seine Sache, ohne alle Gefahr, wie viel Reue er gebar.
In allen Häuen Stiche, Schnitte lerne finden.
Das sollst du oben merken, ob die Leger sind weich oder hart.
Zucke, zucket er, zucke, mehr er befind Arbeit, die ein Tritt.
Wechsel zweifach, den alten Schnitt mit mach.
Fehler, wer die führt von unten, nach Wunsch berührt. Zweifach vorwärts, tritt in deine Hut und sei nicht müde.
Kommt, dass es glitzet oben, so stehe ab, das gern ich loben werde.
Wer auf dich sticht, sein Ort mit Twere treffe und breche.
Willst du dich rächen, vier Blößen künstlich brechen: Oben duplier, da Unten recht mutier.
Vier Blössen wisse, so schlägst du gewisse.
Lass den Ort hängen, ergreife den Knauf, willst du mit [ihm] ringen.
Vier sind da Schnitte, zwei unten, zwei oben mit.

{unreadable maybe „arts“ or 418 in arabic numbers}

Und dies ist das Ende dieser Lehre.

Translation into English

Here starts the good and true fencing mode of master H. Beringer, of blessed memory.

Young knight learn to love God and honor women. Practice knighthood and learn the thing that dignifies you, and serves you in wars. Glaive, wrestling, spear, sword and knife requires a righteous man’s hands and contain harm in other’s.

Wrath-Strike, Crook-Strike, Cross-Strike has Slant-Strike with Crest-Strike

The War
Who strikes at you above, is threatened by Wrath-Strike’s point. If he becomes aware of it, take it off without danger. If you are stronger wind again and thrust. If he sees it, take it down. Draw, what is above from superiority, such ends the war.

Crook, do not strike short, the Changer lurks within.
Crook, upwards fast, throw the point on the hands.
Crook, who judges well, with steps will hurt many strikes.
Crook, who confuses you, the noble war bewilders you.
Cross receives what comes from the sky above.
Cross to the point, take the throat/neck without fear.
Slant in high above, if you want to impress him.
The Crest-strike with his turn, is a menace to the face.

Here are the precepts

Do you startle easily you will never learn to fight.
Inbetween, Before and After, those two things are all things origin. Inbetween, Before and After without rush do not be after the War. What the War intends above, below he will be embarrassed.
Hear what is bad, do not fence left if you are a righty, and as a lefty with the right, listen you will limp.
I say truly, no man will guard himself without moving.
If you took it away, he will not come to any strikes.

Of the Hangings
Two hang down – of both hands – up from the earth.
Who withdraws before you, strike quickly so that he snorts. Strike to the {sides|flutes} if you want to play a trick on the master. Strike to the Plough, join firmly to the Ox.
Who follows the strikes, cannot have joy in the art.
Strike what you want, no Changer will reach your shield.
Four are the Displacements, which hurts the Guards sore.
Set on the four Ends, stay on it if you want to end.
Of displacing beware, if it happens, it will troubles you much. If it happens, how it happens, hear what I advise, sweep off, quick, strike with a step.

Thereafter-Riding learn, step forward and cut into the weapon/defense.
Speaking-Window do, stand steady, observe his doing, without any danger, how much remorse he bears.
In all Winding strikes, thrusts, and cuts learn to find.
That is to remark above, if the guards are soft or hard.
Jerk/redraw, if he jerks, jerk – more – work he will find, the step into.
Change two times, the old cut do with it.
Who wields the Miss from below, will hit wherever he wants. Twotimes forward, step into your guard and do not be lazy.
If it comes that it glistens above, I happily praise stand-off.
Who thrusts at you, his point with the Cross meet and break.
I you want to avenge yourself, four openings break artfully: above double, below mutate. If you know (to use) the four openings, you beat him for sure.

Let the point hang low, grab the pommel, if you want to wrestle.
Four are the cuts, two below and with them two above.

And this is the end of the art.

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Note: This is a proofread, corrected version. Thanks to Dierk Hagedorn. But it is to remark, that the original writing is hard to decipher and gives a lot of room for interpretation. If you have any recommendations, corrections, or annotations that will improve the content on this page, please help me by commenting.

Remarks: the translation of “Zucken” to “Jerk/redraw” is not exactly matching. It is a small backward or forward movement with the blade. There is no perfect translation to that word. On one hand it means “withdrawing” the blade a bit, on the other hand it means to threaten with the weapon. 

Transcription Rules

The transcription is created to make the text readable. So the abbreviations and errors are resolved and marked:

[ ] Square Brackets: resolved abbreviation.
{ } Curved Brackets: added missing or corrected words or letters

See the Glossary of translated terms for more information.

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